What is Minimalism–Really?

The Things You Own

The past couple of years have brought with it a desire to live fully by minimizing not only my possessions, but other areas of my life as well. With that desire came the discovery of The Minimalists. I’ve listened to numerous podcasts and read articles galore and always come out on the other side with a better, deeper understanding of life, happiness and contentment, these leading to a better life.

I’ve learned that minimalism isn’t about depriving oneself of any “thing” or it’s not about getting rid of everything except one utensil, one pair of pants, one shirt, one book…you get the idea. It’s not even about buying the cheapest of something or spending a minimal amount of money. It’s about only buying–or doing–what adds value to yours or someone else’s life. Minimalism keeps me aware of what I’m buying and why I’m buying it; what I’m doing and why I’m doing it; who I’m spending my time with and why.

For me, minimalism has never been about deprivation. Rather, minimalism is about getting rid of life’s excess in favor of the essential.
― Joshua Fields Millburn, A Day in the Life of a Minimalist

New things are always fun, but will it still be fun and add value to your life once the newness wears off? It’s not wrong to buy that new dress, that new car, or even that ATV, just know why you’re buying it. If the reason for the purchase is because so-and-so has one or because you want to look good, there are deeper questions to ask yourself. Such as:

  • Why does it take a new dress (or whatever the purchase would be for you) to make you feel better about yourself? Maybe some time for self-reflection would be a better option.
  • A week from now, a month, or even a year, whatever length of time it takes for the newness to wear off, will the item still add value to your life or just become another useless item on the shelf?

By cutting out the things that don’t add value to your life, you’re making room for those things that do, whether it’s “things,” people, time, etc.

Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. Rather, we focus on making room for more, more, more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment—and more freedom. It just so happens that clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.
― Joshua Fields Millburn, Minimalism: Essential Essays

One of the men from The Minimalists team packed up all of his things into boxes and for the next several months only unpacked those items he needed for that day. Only a small percentage of things were unpacked at the end of those months. Take some time to ponder what you really use–what things, friendships, activities, etc, you have/do that truly add to your life rather than take away from that which does add value. Take some time to explore minimalism and see what it looks like for you. I believe it looks different for everyone.

Minimalism

Nature’s Brilliance, Week 4

Nature in its Perfectness

The final week of sharing shots of nature that I’ve discovered this past month. And just in time to focus on Camp NaNo. What is Camp NaNo, you ask? Tune in next week and I’ll share what it is and what I’m working on. But first, one more week of nature. Sit back and breathe in the silent beauty.

 

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From birth to full-bloom. Each holds its own beauty.

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Oftentimes, raw beauty is the best kind. Nature, unaltered, unmanicured, all natural. It’s these things, unseen if we don’t take the time to notice them, that make up so much of life.

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If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable. –Rainer Maria Rilke

Weekend Quote

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”

-Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale

Have a Happy Day! 🙂

Silence – Part II

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In Part I, I announced My One Word, Silence, for 2014, and the benefits I have found through my conversion to one word rather than a list of resolutions.  Following is a list of how one word can help shape my character and draw me nearer to God if practiced diligently, keeping in mind it’s about progress, not perfection.  And to think this list can happen from just one word. 🙂

1.)  When I feel anger toward someone for their words or actions, whether they were intentional or not, remaining silent until I’ve had time to process and bring it before God will prevent me from spouting off with a comment I will likely regret later.  And staying silent, not even so much as to comment under my breath to myself in the name of venting, will keep my thoughts clear. I believe that our thoughts become words, so if I say something unkind in a moment of emotion, whether to someone else or to myself, I’m allowing my thoughts to travel that path.  Stopping a negative thought with a positive one before it flows into words, prevents those thoughts from germinated and growing wildly out of control, weeds choking out anything beautiful that has the potential to grow.  And it’s impossible to feel anger when I’m being grateful to God for something He’s blessed me with.

2.)  Taking a moment of silence before responding to a question that holds any weight gives enough time to invite God into the conversation.  If I follow His lead, I can’t go wrong.  In the presence of impulsivity and many spoken words, there is greater chance for sin.

3.)  It’s in silence and stillness that God breathes answers to my questions, even those that are often unasked.  If every waking moment is absorbed in sound, whether it be the television, radio, others or myself talking, there is no room for listening to His still, small voice.  I enjoy listening to the K-LOVE radio station in my car, or WAY-FM, songs and spiritual words lifting me high.  However, I have found that when I listen for it coming from Him, in silence, rather than through noise on the radio, it blankets my heart in peace that is incomparable to anything else.  That being said, unless I think about the word “silence,” in a world that’s accustomed and conditioned to noise, I often run on auto pilot and turn my radio on without thinking.  My one word reminds me to invite the silence into my day.

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4.)  Keeping my one word consciously and  subconsciously close, invites my thoughts to be still, bringing them back to Him, riding that wave of peace.  It’s a peace that is unmatched and one I discovered cannot be found anywhere except in close communion with God.  Silence reminds me to take deep, slow, cleansing breathes throughout the day, keeping the chaos and noise to a tolerable minimum.

5.)  Mindfulness of silence keeps me from reliving yesterday or jumping ahead to tomorrow, and keeps me living, fully experiencing, the here and now.

As I now prepare to sit quietly and enjoy a moment of silence before proceeding with my day, I wish you all a beautiful, peaceful year, journeying on your path to growth toward whatever it is you’re striving for.

Peace to you.

Simple Pleasures

Simplicity Nature

Whether at work or play, I’ve frequently been told I “walk with a mission.”  While “mission” work is admirable, that’s not the intending meaning behind this statement in my case.

Always having been one to strive to get things done efficiently and effectively, it has become my goal this past year to intentionally slow down to notice and enjoy the small things along the journey.  Not insignificant by any means, but small enough to miss if not looked for.  Like the clearing on this mountainside that looks like a cross.  Blessed.

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By slowing down not as many things may get accomplished, but what does will be better and far more enjoyable.  And that, I have learned, is more important.

We often derive our self-worth by how much we’ve accomplished, and that only leads to a sense of false self-importance when we’re busy, or a lack of self-worth when we aren’t.

People are rarely remembered for what they have done, but for how they have lived their lives.  I want to make mine memorable.  I want to make a difference to those around me, to act in love, patience, kindness, and gentleness.  Those qualities don’t appear when I am rushed, but when rather fully enjoying living.

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Rather than planning a response to something  someone is saying, tune in to really listen to what is being said.  I believe the fact that we have two ears and only one mouth was an intentional act by God.  I believe He had a purpose for creating us that way.

Rather than waste precious moments worrying about what needs to be done, be fully present in the moment, even if you’re simply washing dishes.  Envision all your tension melt away in the warmth of the water.  Make it a therapeutic activity.  When doing chores that  are less than fun, choose music that you only listen to during that time and enjoy being right where you are.  In the present moment.

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Sit on the porch and sit in a rocking chair or porch swing, focusing only on the rocking movement, a slow back and forth.

English: Porch swing at sunset along the Saint...

When you’re out of your mind crazy busy and frazzled, take a few moments to do nothing but look at photos of beautiful scenery.  Or anything else that brings you joy, whether its flowers, leafing through a magazine, or even shoes on the Internet.  But only do that one thing.

Look at something you’ve never noticed before or taken the time to pay attention to–a pinecone, an acorn, a single flower.  Marvel at all the intricacies and unique qualities.

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When someone calls needing to talk, rather than find an excuse for fear that you won’t have enough time to get your to-do list done, invite them over and make it a special moment for both of you.  Set out a plate of cookies, light a candle and put the coffee or tea on.   We feel less stressed and energized if we’re of service to another.

What are some of the simple pleasures you’ve discovered while living this beautiful adventure called life?  I would love to hear.

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – Vacations

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Whether it’s a vacation or staycation, it’s medicine for the soul.

What better therapy is there than to unplug from all things electronic and just get back to nature.  To the simplest of pleasures.

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There is much to be said for simplicity that is best summed up not with words, but in quiet reflection.  Uncomplicated living.  Even for one day if that’s all you can string together before duty and obligations need to be tended to.

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Free from the distractions of television, Internet–yes, even social media, telephones, radio.  All electronic devices.   To completely unplug.

Just to absorb the solitude and beauty of pure silence.  Nature and its sounds in its purest form.

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Or to do nothing but reading for pleasure.

I’ve experienced reading or writing with pen and paper in nature or in complete solitude to bring a whole new level of creativity and joy than with the distractions of electronics.  Even if they’re not on.

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The threat of the phone ringing or someone turning on the TV or radio limits my thought process from being completely free.

Unplug.  Unwind.  Vacate the busy-ness of life.  Vacation.

Rejuvenate.  Re-energize.  Renew.

All is Grace.

My Aha! Moment -K.I.S.S.

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I always love reading the My Aha! Moment section in Oprah‘s magazine.  In fact, I usually feel like I have mini Aha! moments with each one.

Being of the perfectionist type A personality, I’m quick to find the error of my ways, looking how to improve the way I’m doing things, kicking it into overdrive as I do.  There is no half way here.  It’s speeding all the way, pedal to the metal, as I tackle not just one or two things to improve, but the whole shebang.

And before I can pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t, I’m burnt out, tired, and completely unable to focus or remember what I was trying to “fix” in the first place.  My mind is hurried and harried, my body tired and trembling.

Recently I found myself up to my neck in the middle of too many irons in the fire, being “good” at any one of them not an option. Only excelling at all of them was allowed.  By me.photo (26)

I burned rubber, skidding sideways into a burnout moment which resulted in the need to take a mental health day from work.

The first half of that day was spent feeling guilty because I wasn’t being more productive.

But somewhere in there God placed His gentle, firm hand on my shoulder, breathing new energy into me.  Energy that didn’t make me feel like I needed to DO something.  But mental energy that created focus and clarity.

I realized that in trying to do everything, I was doing nothing.  At least nothing worth doing.  I spent so much time trying to micromanage (aka Control) everything I took on from the process all the way to the outcome.  And the weight of that need to control was suffocating me.

A modified definition of the acronym K.I.S.S. hit home.  Keep it super simple.

Instead of trying to do everything perfectly, I now work at doing some things that are the most important to me–like being mom, wife, grandma, writer, employee–the best that I can. God can, and does, control the outcome.

photo (24)When I stress about the outcome of something I’ve taken on, I envision the worst possible scenario. Yup.  The worst thing I can think of.  Because it’s usually so far out there and absurd that I end up laughing until my stomach hurts and the anxiety simply dissolves.

Rather than try to tackle an entire book in the Bible during my quiet time with God, I have learned that reading and meditating upon one or two verses–or even a short passage–brings much more peace.  It’s then I truly absorb God’s message because my focus becomes God, rather than my time.photo (27)

I have found that when I slow down and take off my control superman cape, I’m  less restricted and  more productive.  And  life is so much better.

Slow down and smell the roses is more than just a cliche.  It’s keeping things simple. And that simplicity has saved my sanity.

All is Grace.